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If you're one of our U.S. visitors, hopefully you're enjoying a nice day off, and we thank you for spending some time with us. But if you're old enough, probably you remember the glory days when Lincoln's b-day and Washington's b-day were celebrated as separate holidays. Merge them into one? What an outrage! Imagine your parents deciding to celebrate you and your sister's b-day on the same day.

Meanwhile, baseball is, in fact, celebrated every day in the summer, except those occasional Monday's when everybody but the Pirates and Brewers are off. But hey, it's better than watching a "reality show," so you'll tune in—and there's always the chance it could be Oliver Perez vs. Ben Sheets. Now there's a topic worth discussing: the explosion of young pitchers in the last five years. And not just young pitchers, but good young pitchers.

Some time ago at Da Box, we had a long list posted of all the pitching talent emerging in this Era Of The Hitter. I can't find that list, and frankly would not want to look, but we don't need it. Here are just a dozen or so names to look at:

Johan Santana
Roy Halladay
Mark Prior
Carlos Zambrano
Jake Peavy
Roy Oswalt
Barry Zito
Tim Hudson
Mark Mulder
Ben Sheets
Oliver Perez
Rich Harden
Jason Schmidt
Javier Vazquez

There are no doubt others who I've left out. And while Schmidt and Hudson, in particular, are not necessarily "young" anymore, nor are they as old as, say, Mike Mussina. (Nor am I, thankfully—but I am close.) Then there are all those raw but undeniably up-and-coming arms—the A's kids, for example—who may yet put a dent in the TINSTAPP theory. Are there more than usual? Probably not. But it seems that, over the last few years in particular, fewer-and-fewer pitchers are taking fewer-and-fewer licks in the majors. (Go check out Greg Maddux's first few years, for example; his struggles represent the rule, not the exception.) When you consider all the Amazing Older Pitchers—you know who you are—this is both the Era Of The Hitter AND the Era Of The Pitcher.

So what will win out in the coming years? Will young pitchers continue to develop more quickly, as it seems now, and thus become less of a premium? Are we heading toward a period of pitcher-dominated statistics? (Which, if it occurs, would then be blamed, more than likely, on MLB's "clampdown" on steroid usage, a gross oversimplification which takes away from the considerable accomplishments of pitchers today.) Or will hitters continue to get all the attention?

In other words, how much longer before Nike invades us with a "Chicks Dig The Strikeout" ad campaign?
Notes From Nowhere: Further Etchings On Future Etchings | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 02:14 PM EST (#103265) #
Aaron Gleeman did a fine piece in The Hardball Times last year on how few current pitchers are on course to win 300 games. He looked at the careers of Clemens, Maddux and Seaver, and found that basically the pitcher has to be at roughly 75 wins by age 25, and 150 by age 30. He concluded that the next 300 game winner was probably in a schoolyard somewhere.

As run scoring increases, it becomes harder for starters to run up those 24 win seasons that help them get there. 2004 was more of a hitter's year than 2001, 2002 or 2003. The hitter's paradise of today is likely to be around awhile longer.

I more or less agree with Aaron, although I do think that one of the young guns, maybe Harden, will give it a run.

Notwithstanding the efforts of statheads to place raw win totals and ERA in context, most fans still will look at the unadjusted numbers and stack them up against the heroes of before. So, it's mostly the hitters of today's era, I think, who will be remembered.
Mylegacy - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 02:52 PM EST (#103268) #
I think this "ERA FROM NOW ON" is the start of two things; one, as 'roids become less a factor hitters will return to normal ie "historic" trends and two, SPEED will again become a plus.

I don't think we'll see little ball, but a step closer to it.

As for pitchers, IMO bring back the spitter!
Hamboy - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 03:05 PM EST (#103271) #
IMHO, I don't think the power number will be all that dimished with steroid ban. Oh, we won't see anyone hitting 72 dingers a season anymore but there'll always be quite a bit of players hitting around 40-50 ranges, thanks to advancements in training and conditioning that will make hitters bigger than that of those dead ball era.

However, as a pitcher myself, I would love to see old time pitchers back and throwing those spitters and making those batters look foolish.
GrrBear - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 03:56 PM EST (#103273) #
Has Questec had an effect on the ratio of strikes and balls? Just looking at my fantasy cheat sheet here, I count twenty pitchers with K/9 ratios above 8, and five guys above 10. That's unbelievable. Johnson, Prior, Santana, Schmidt, and Sheets. Four young studs and Grandpa Mullet. Prior probably has the best shot at 300 if he can stay off the DL. Doesn't it really come down to two things - starting young and staying healthy? Dave Stieb started young, but couldn't stay healthy past 1985. Roger Clemens started young, stayed healthy (because he's a tank), and made it to 300.

I just feel sorry for poor Steve Francis in Colorado. There should be a law to prevent rookie pitchers from having to log innings at Coors Field.
GrrBear - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 03:57 PM EST (#103274) #
Oops, I mean Jeff Francis. :)
Mike Green - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 04:31 PM EST (#103276) #
Schmidt is 31, with a career 104-74 mark and a 3.90 ERA (110 ERA+). Despite all those recent Ks, he's going to have sustain his performance of the last 2 years for a long time to be remembered as a a great pitcher.

Sheets had a great season last year, after 3 mediocre ones, but he's now 26 years old with a record of 45-53 with an ERA of 3.92 (107 ERA+).

Prior and Santana are both great pitchers, but health and in Santana's case, a late start, are likely to make their career numbers look pale compared with Clemens or Seaver or Maddux.

Felix Hernandez has a chance to be a fine major league pitcher from age 19. We'll see how he does this year in double A and, hopefully, triple A.
TimberLee - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 04:33 PM EST (#103277) #
Sorry if I'm breaking in here, but not knowing anything about Sportsnet's plans for Jays' 2005 games is driving me nuts. Have they released a schedule or even info on the identity of the broadcasters? What can they be waiting for?
Gerry - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 04:46 PM EST (#103278) #
I think run scoring will stay high. We need to distinguish between the arrival of some good to great young pitchers and the overall level of pitching. As the young guns come in, others stars fade. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine do not have long left. Clemens, Schilling, Randy Johnson, Smoltz have a couple of years left. The young guns will replace these guys, but overall I see little change.
John Northey - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 05:33 PM EST (#103279) #
300 game winners? The requirement is, over 20 years, to average 15 wins per year ala Maddux. However, to get 20 years you have to start by 20-22 I'd think which is harder and harder to do as college becomes a bigger factor I'd think. Thus a pitcher starting full-time in the majors at 24 is more likly thus shaving 2-4 years off his career. In 16 years that same HOF pitcher would have to average 19 wins (18.75 to be exact) to get 300. A much harder task.

I'm still in favor of trying to make the 4 man rotation, with a limit of 3 times through the order (exceptions for no-no's of course).

Btw, sharing birthdays with your sister? Been there, done that.
6-4-3 - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 05:52 PM EST (#103281) #

Felix Hernandez has a chance to be a fine major league pitcher from age 19. We'll see how he does this year in double A and, hopefully, triple A.

Actually, it might be that we'll see how he does this year in AAA, and hopefully, the majors. There's lots of talk in Seattle that King Felix might make the majors this year. Like here "The plan is to have Hernandez play half the season in the minors, and possibly call him up for the second half with no workload restrictions."

Bavasi (elsewhere) preaches caution, worries about injuries, but the Mariners' rotation is so bad that it could happen. Of course, with Seattle pitching prospects, everyone's crosing their fingers and praying to the labrum gods.

Brian W - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 06:29 PM EST (#103282) #
My feeling is that in general the level of pitching talent is probably going to be about the same. There has always been a decent number of top level pitchers, but those are spread pretty thinly across the league. Most teams will still have two or three guys in the rotation that are pretty much fringe players and the hitters will continue to hit them hard.

(Oh, and it isn't just the US visitors who have the day off. Out west in beautiful Alberta we are celebrating the "Family Day" long weekend :) )
Evair Montenegro - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 06:43 PM EST (#103283) #
Another good young pitcher that averaged more than 10 K/9 was Oliver Perez, he is a good pitcher but in pittsburgh he doesn´t get a lot of run support.
Ben - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 08:06 PM EST (#103284) #
I'm with Gerry in that I think the overall level of pitching will remain close to where it is, a few really dominant, followed by some good, mediocre and bad pitchers. Five years down the road Santana might be a shorter Johnson, Prior a young Pedro, Hudson might be Maddux and so on. Five years from that we'll see another group of young pitchers coming in and have this discussion all over again. However, I think hitting has peaked in general, not just due to steroids and will have a slow decline to more modest numbers. We just got lucky enoough to see Bonds, Pujols, Manny, McGwire and Sosa all play at the same time. Also due to this slow decline in hitting people will cry that the time of the pitcher is at hand, while it is just a balancing out of everything.
best400 - Monday, February 21 2005 @ 10:52 PM EST (#103291) #
I think perhaps the most important thing about Maddux and Clemens is that they've been able to stay healthy throughout their careers, not having extended resting periods has halped maintain thei consistency
Notes From Nowhere: Further Etchings On Future Etchings | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.